Owner Toolkit

 

New to Renting

Congratulations on your decision to rent out your home! We're here to make sure that your experience with HomeAway, VRBO, VacationRentals.com, or any of the other sites in the HomeAway family is a great one for both you and your guests. Learn more about the HomeAway family.

Renting your home doesn't have to be hard work. Here's how it will go:


  1. Get inquiries and reservation requests: As soon as your listing goes live, you can begin to receive inquiries (or reservation requests, if you have online booking) from travelers interested in renting your property. You can easily manage your inquiries or requests through your inbox (see the "Get to Know Your Inbox" tab). You’ll also receive notifications through your personal email, and can download the HomeAway app or sign up for text alerts to get inquiries or requests on-the-go.
  2. Communicate: You will communicate with potential guests via email, the "Inbox" tab in your dashboard, or by phone to coordinate dates, rates, and booking details. We recommend responding within 24 hours of an inquiry for your best chance of securing a booking (and to get a great response score). Once you and your guest are satisfied with the arrangements, we recommend you have them sign a rental agreement, which your Reservation Manager enables you to store and send easily.
  3. Get paid: Your guest will pay for their stay through HomeAway Payments or another payment method of your choice. We recommend using HomeAway Payments because it’s the safest and most convenient way for you to get paid. If you have HomeAway Payments, you will be paid based on your disbursement schedule. If you have online booking, you will have 24 hours to accept or decline a traveler’s prepaid reservation request. Learn more about online booking and payments >
  4. Show some hospitality: Once the reservation is confirmed, your guest will receive an invitation to view details about your property, including check-in and checkout instructions, as well as local recommendations. Once you provide information about your property through the “Hospitality” tab in your dashboard, it will be sent automatically, so each guest will receive the information about your home without having to send a separate message to each guest. Learn more about our Mobile Hospitality features >
  1. Get inquiries and reservation requests: As soon as your listing goes live, you can begin to receive inquiries and reservation requests from travelers interested in renting your property. A reservation request means that the traveler has clicked the “Book it now” button on your listing, entered their payment information, and is asking you to accept their reservation request and payment. You can easily manage your inquiries and reservation requests through your inbox (see "Get to Know Your Dashboard"). You’ll also receive notifications through your personal email, and can download the HomeAway app or sign up for text alerts to get inquiries or requests on-the-go.
  2. Communicate: When you receive a reservation request, you’ll have 24 hours to accept or decline it. During this time, you can communicate with potential guests via email, the "Inbox" tab in your dashboard, or by phone in your dashboard. This is your chance to screen guests, share a rental agreement, and discuss any details. You can also modify the reservation request before accepting. When you send back the edited reservation, you are accepting the reservation at the updated rate.
     
    Even though you have the “Book it Now” button on your listing, you can still receive inquiries from travelers. We recommend responding within 24 hours of an inquiry for your best chance of securing a booking (and to get a great response score).
  3. Accept: When you accept the reservation request, the traveler's credit card is automatically charged, a confirmation email is sent to the traveler, and the reservation is automatically added to your calendar. All bookings received through the HomeAway family of sites are REQUIRED to be processed using HomeAway Payments. If we suspect that bookings are being taken offline, we reserve the right to remove your listing from the site.
  4. Show some hospitality: Once the reservation is confirmed, your guest will receive an invitation to view details about your property, including check-in and checkout instructions, as well as local recommendations. Once you provide information about your property through the “Hospitality” tab in your dashboard, it will be sent automatically, so each guest will receive the information about your home without having to send a separate message to each guest. Learn more about our Mobile Hospitality features>
  5. Get paid: Your very first traveler payment through our system is disbursed to your bank account one day after your traveler’s scheduled check-in date or 30 days from the date of your traveler's payment, whichever date is later. Afterwards, you are placed onto the normal disbursement schedule, which means funds will be dispersed one day after traveler check-in.
 

Get Started

Now that you understand the process, let's get your listing and rental in gear:


Get your listing up and running

One of the great things about the HomeAway family of sites is that thousands of travelers search it every day. That means that as soon as you create a listing with all of the basic requirements, your property will be out there for the world to see. In order for your listing to go live, you must include the following minimum requirements:


  • The vacation rental address and advertising region in the “Location” tab  (don’t worry – the address of your property will only be shared with confirmed guests)
  • A headline (minimum of 20 characters) and description (minimum of 400 characters)
  • Your email address or phone number in the “Contact” tab (note: we recommend including an SMS-enabled number and enabling text message alerts so that we can send you a notification when you receive an inquiry or reservation request)
  • Include at least six high-quality photos on your listing – we recommend 24 big ones (at least 1024x768) so that you can showcase all the features of your property
  • In the “Amenities” tab, include property type and accommodation type and specify the maximum number of people who can sleep at the rental, the number of bedrooms, and the number of bathrooms
  • Add your rates: either list a standard rate that covers all dates or at least one seasonal rate for a specific time period. We will provide quotes to your guests based on the dates of the stay so be sure you keep them as accurate as possible. This is what the traveler sees

Once you’ve done these things, your listing will be up and running. But don’t stop there – learn how to build a standout listing.
 

Set the right rates

Quotable rates is our format for setting rates and displaying them to travelers. The quotable rates format is the most accurate way to display rates and makes it easy for a traveler to search by price. It allows travelers to see an exact quote for your property when they provide a date range. Additionally, convenient features like “Get a Quote” and “Book it Now” are only available to listings with quotable rates. Learn more about quotable rates >

Note: if you are a new owner, your listing already has quotable rates!

To set a competitive price, look around at similar properties and even hotels nearby. And don't forget to do the math on what you need to cover your costs and amenities. To make the most of your property, consider price changes for peak seasons, minimum stays, and holiday rates.


Edit your HomeAway rates >

Edit your VRBO rates >

Edit your VacationRentals.com rates >
 

Respond quickly to messages

Once someone is interested in your property, you’ll receive a notification of the inquiry (or booking request if you have online booking/pay-per-booking) in several ways.


  • Inquiries and reservation requests are accessible from your dashboard. Log in from the homepage and view a detailed conversation view by clicking the “Inbox” tab. Special icons will help you identify which messages are new and which require your immediate attention. Reservation requests will have a countdown timer so you know how long you have to accept, and unanswered inquiries will have an alert so you know that you still need to respond.
  • Notifications will also be sent to your email. You can respond directly to that email in your personal email account, or by going to your dashboard. If you have the HomeAway secure communication feature, you’ll notice traveler inquiries and your responses will always come from an anonymous HomeAway address (sender@messages.homeaway.com) to protect you and your guests’ contact information. You can always access the guests’ contact information from your inbox; however, if you take the conversation out of the HomeAway system, your responses will not be counted to your response score.
  • Notifications for HomeAway and VRBO listings are also sent through the HomeAway app.
  • If you have an SMS-enabled number in your contact information, you can enable it to receive a notification via text to your mobile phone. Be sure to enter one in the “Contact” tab of your dashboard.

A quick response is extremely important: travelers are more than twice as likely to book your property when they receive a response to their initial inquiry within 24 hours*. If you have our secure communication feature you are eligible for a response score as part of your listing quality scorecard (and if you are a new owner, you do!).  Responding quickly won’t just improve your listing quality score; it also improves your placement in traveler searches – which increases your chance of getting bookings. Learn more about your response score >


With your Reservation Manager, responding is easy. You can create customized template responses for every occasion (available, not available, booking confirmation, etc.) so you can easily reply without having to write a new message each time. The template manager allows you to customize and store all your responses for any situation. You can even use predefined “tags” so dynamic content can be included (e.g., <GUEST NAME> becomes the actual person’s name when the email is created). You can also add attachments like rental agreements and preview the template to see how it will look once it’s sent. Learn more about your Reservation Manager >


View your HomeAway inbox > 

View your VRBO inbox >

View your VacationRentals.com inbox >
 

Sign on the dotted line

After you and your guest have come to an agreement, you can use your Reservation Manager to seal the deal by sharing rental agreements, cancellation policies, and any other important documents. Upload rental documents in advance – they’ll be easily accessible and you can quickly attach them to your responses. You can attach them in templated messages or add them to messages as you create them. The attachment manager accepts PDF, JPG, PNG, or GIF files, and allows you to organize them into folders so they’re always easy to find. To learn more about important rental documents, check out  these sample rental contracts and checklists and the top 10 things you should include in your rental agreement.
 

Prepare your property

Before your first guest arrives, you'll want to make sure your property is ready to go. This includes stocking up on expected items and lining up a cleaning service for between guests. Remember, some guests will be used to staying in hotels and might expect a hair dryer, ironing board, and other amenities. Learn about the essentials >

Moving forward, remember to leave enough room in between stays to allow plenty of time for a high-quality cleaning crew to come in and press the "reset" button. Set up that cleaning service for success – supply them with a checklist of everything that must be done before the next visitors arrive. Learn more about setting up a cleaning service >
 

Give your guests the information they need

Your guests will also need important rental information like instructions on how things work, how to get to the property and how to get in, as well as check-in and checkout policies. Give your guests all the information they need by entering rental instructions, local recommendations, and other useful details in the “Hospitality” link in your dashboard. When you confirm a booking, your guest will receive an invitation to access the info online or through our mobile app, so they’ll have everything they need to know, when they need it.

Learn more about the Mobile Hospitality Manager >


Visit my Mobile Hospitality Manager >
 

How to get paid

HomeAway Payments is a secure payments service that allows you to process online payments and adds additional functionality in Reservation Manager. With Homeaway Payments, you get low credit card processing fees, no setup or termination fees, and no monthly fees. You’ll also get a prominent badge on your listing to help it stand out more. Using HomeAway Payments and Online booking improves your listing quality score, which helps get you better placement in search results and better visibility to travelers; and it’s the most secure way to pay.

Owners with subscription listings can also elect to use a payment method outside of HomeAway Payments, like bank transfers and personal checks, but 85% of travelers prefer to book online*.

HomeAway Payments simplifies the process of dealing with multiple renters, security deposits, and payment management. For example, you can use your Reservation Manager to schedule payments and reminders will be automatically sent to your guests. Plus, with HomeAway Payments you’ll automatically get the “Book it Now” feature if you have quotable rates (and if you are a new owner, you do!). Learn more about HomeAway Payments >

Accept online payments on your HomeAway listing >

Accept online payments on your VRBO listing >

Accept online payments on your VacationRentals.com listing >
 

Request a review

There’s one more step after the guest has left: request the review that will help to attract your next guest! Over half of travelers use reviews to make a booking decision between two properties. Unlike other content on your listing, travelers look at reviews as an unbiased view of the experience your vacation rental can provide.

Reviews are important to travelers; they are also important to your listing quality scorecard. The more recent the reviews are, the better – 85% of travelers have told us that reviews written within the last two years are more helpful**. You should try to get at least 12 reviews and never stop collecting them to make sure you always have recent ones on your listing.

There are several ways to request reviews:

  • Click the “Reviews” tab of your dashboard and follow the instructions to get reviews from past guests.
  • Guests using the mobile hospitality experience will also receive a request for a review toward the end of the stay, when they’re more likely to take the time to respond.
  • If you enroll in online booking or online payments, a review request will automatically be sent to your guests so just talk to your guests to make sure they will write one.

Remember, both positive and negative reviews help establish credibility and trust. By responding to negative reviews, you turn them into an opportunity to highlight your professionalism and attentiveness to any issues.

Request reviews for your HomeAway listing >

Request reviews for your VRBO listing >

Request reviews for your VacationRentals.com listing >
 


Pro Tips

Now that you've got the basics down, here are some tips to help your listing stand out.


The perfect listing

When building your listing, there are the "must haves" and then there are the golden nuggets that will convince your prospective visitors that you are the one. Here are a few ways to make sure you stand out:

  • Optimize your listing quality - we’ve done lots of research and know exactly what potential guests are looking for…and it’s all there in your listing quality scorecard. Follow the customized recommendations on your listing scorecard to make sure your listing has all the things that matter most to travelers. After your subscription level, your listing quality score is the most important factor that you can influence to help improve where your listing appears in traveler search results – and better placement means more bookings! Learn more about your listing quality scorecard >
  • Set up an Insider Guide - We've partnered with Gogobot to allow you to post photos and list the gems that make your place unique, from proximity to the best restaurants to your secret path down to the beach. Be sure to add one to your HomeAway, VRBO, and VacationRentals.com listings.
*Travelers are more than twice as likely to book your property when they receive a response to their initial inquiry within 24 hours.
**Over 85% of travelers have told us that reviews written within the last two years are more helpful.
***Based on a survey conducted in March 2012 to 2,199 travelers who inquiries on HomeAway or VRBO.